The Lantern Read-Along: Parts I-II

This is my second attempt at a read-along, occuring conveniently within the same time frame as my first attempt! This one is a bit different, though, as here I’m reading a whole novel rather than short stories, and there are set questions to answer rather than me just going on about things. So if you’re not reading along with me, this might not make a lot of sense. I promise I’ll do a regular review post after I’m done with the whole thing!

1. This may seem like an obvious opening question, but what do you think of The Lantern thus far? Oh, hey, just kidding about not going on about things. 🙂 I was iffy at first, with the odd prologue and the boring girl-meets-boy bits in the early chapters, but once Our Narrator and Dom get out to the house, and once Our Other Narrator starts talking about her creep-tastic brother, I was like, please, tell me more! I’m glad this book is broken up into parts, because without the sort-of denoument of the second part, I might still be reading the book instead of answering these questions!

2. The book appears to be following the experiences of two different women, alternating back and forth between their stories. Are you more fond of our main protagonist’s story or of Benedicte’s or are you enjoying them both equally? Which do I like more? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm… I’m not terribly interested in Our Narrator, though I am intrigued by her investigation into Dom’s ex and am hoping to hear more of those fairy tales she found soon. I’m also not terribly interested in Our Other Narrator, Bénédicte, as much as I am interested in her brother Pierre and his interests, namely his homicidal tendencies. I’m sensing that they will come into play later. I suppose if I had to pick one narrator for the rest of the novel, I would at this point choose to stay with Our Narrator, because I like investigation more than dead cats.

3. The Lantern is a book filled with descriptions of scents. How are you liking (or disliking) that aspect of the book? How do you feel about the lavish description of scents? How are the short chapters working for you? I’m not really noticing the scent descriptions as being overly lavish, but I suppose that after the sensory love-fest of The Night Circus I’m almost expecting it! As for the short chapters, I was put off by them at first but now I really think they work well to keep up the suspense of both narratives and allow Lawrenson to easily skip around in time.

4. How would you describe the atmosphere of Parts 1 and 2 of The Lantern? Um, mildly spooky? It’s all about that decrepit house, isn’t it? Even the things that would normally be completely innocuous are coming across as tinged with spookiness if they happened anywhere near that house. And all the secret-keeping helps, too!

5. Has anything surprised you to this point? Anything stand out? I was rather surprised by Bénédicte’s father bricking Bénédicte and her brother into that room. That is a parenting technique I’ve never heard of before. And the fact that Pierre knew what was happening… I think there’s plenty more to come from Bénédicte’s narrative. I also want to know more about this pineapple.

6. What are your feelings about Dom in these first two sections of the story? I really don’t know how to feel about him. Sure, he’s being intensely secretive, but only being able to see it from Our Narrator’s point of view, I wonder if he’s really being that terrible. Certainly Our Narrator recognizes that she’s gone a bit off the deep end in mistrusting him. I think that perhaps he is fueling her neurosis a bit by not even throwing her a scrap of information, but considering my fears that there’s only bad information there, I can’t yet blame him.

Bonus question: Did anyone else hear “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” ringing in their ears through the first sections of the book? Okay, I get it, I’ll get around to reading Rebecca. Someday. Maybe.

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11 thoughts on “The Lantern Read-Along: Parts I-II

  1. Caroline says:

    I start to feel like the party pooper as I'm the only one who has a hard time digesting the descriptions. I described it in more details in my post. I find them overdone.
    I would have liked Eve to be more complex but think all the other characters are interesting. I can see how she would want to know more about Rachel but I can't see how you would want to stay with someone who withholds information…
    I had already forgotten about the bricking in the room… It's a new level of parental abuse.

  2. Alison says:

    Grace — Yes, it did feel Poe-ish! What a strange way to deal with troublemakers…

    Caroline — Normally I would probably be with you, but after The Night Circus there is no such thing as overdone. 🙂 And really, if you don't stay with the person who doesn't give you information, how will you have any hope of getting that information? It's not a good reason, certainly, but it's a reason!

  3. Kate says:

    I can't believe it, but I'd forgotten about the bricking up episode too.

    I think you're right in that out of all the characters we've seen so far, Pierre is actually the most interesting, if actually reprehensible. I actually find Dom a little interesting, but only in an “I've Got A Secret” way, not actually interesting! Otherwise he's a bit broody and sulky, isn't he?

  4. wereadtoknow says:

    That's exactly why I kind of can't wait to get more of Benedicte's side of the story – between her mean old dad and her creeptastic, balls-crazy brother, I just can't see her having a normal life in store. And I can see what you mean, I guess, about wanting to stay with someone who won't give you answers just because he's the only one who can , but it just wouldn't be a big enough draw for me so there are times I just want to shake Eve and tell her to DEMAND her answers or get out!

    I'm glad to see I'm not the only reader for whom this whole group-read is new (my first group read is also this month's read along of Fragile Things!) and I'm liking the switch up in formats, what with the questions and all – what do you think? Can't wait to hear what you have to say next week!
    – Chelsea

  5. Carl V. says:

    If you like gothic/romantic (and I don't mean “romance”) fiction at all you really owe it to yourself to read Rebecca. And on some levels it is a shame that you didn't read it first because you might find yourself comparing it to this. Rebecca is a masterpiece.

    I don't find the descriptions overly lush either, but I can see how some would. Don't feel like a party pooper Caroline, it is understandable.

    I like both narrators equally at this point in the book, although I was enjoying Benedicte's more early on. I had forgotten to write about the book in detail in my post and that is a shame because I loved that she found the book and I do so want to read that book! Very badly.

    I find it funny that I as the only male (I think…) participating in this group read am a little easier on Eve than some of the rest of you. Not that I don't agree with your point, she should indeed be out of there, but we are basically seeing a woman who got herself caught up in the throes of the kind of grand romantic gesture every fairy tale promotes and then when he starts being brooding and withholds information readers are wanting her to jump ship. Honestly it isn't very realistic to think anyone would be that quick to abandon a passionate love affair. And to this point Dom is your prototypical classic romance hero, alternately passionate and standoffish. He reminds me of the hero from Jane Eyre in that respect.

  6. Alison says:

    Kate — I don't like being interested in Pierre, but I can't help it! I want to know what's gone wrong in that brain of his! Which is probably how Eve feels about Dom, yes? 🙂

    wereadtoknow — But if you demand the answers, you'll never get them! I know this from playing L.A. Noire, of course, and watching crime shows on the teevee. And I feel a little weird with the questions, because some I could go on forever about and some I'm like, “Um, sure,” but it wouldn't do to have me ramble about a story I haven't yet finished!

    Carl — I have tried to read Rebecca so many times, but I never seem to be in the mood for it. Someday. And did I say that Eve needs to get out of there? I'm not sure I quite said that, because seriously if I were her I wouldn't have left either. You can't give up on a good mystery like that, and as far as I can tell it's Eve being the crazypants so far, and she can't really run away from herself!

  7. Kristen M. says:

    This is one of those books where in the back of my mind I start thinking “is there no one sane in this entire thing?” Everyone seems to be a bit off their rocker in some way or another. Although Pierre and Papa take the cake. We know obviously that Benedicte makes it to old age but I still worry about her!

  8. Alison says:

    Kristen — I agree! I just want to shake my head sadly at everyone, and grab a few of them by the shoulders and say, “What is WRONG with you?”

    Stephanie — It's so tempting!

  9. Carl V. says:

    I can see that, certain books do have to be read when one is in the mood. I wouldn't be as motivated to read a book like The Lantern during any other time of year but fall/winter as that is when gothic stories really appeal to me most.

    One day I hope to re-read Rebecca.

    And Eve is certainly all over the place.

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